Tigers-Indians Preview

The top contenders in the AL Central have been flexing their

muscles lately with the Detroit Tigers winning eight straight and

12 of 13 while the Cleveland Indians have won 10 of 11.

The Tigers have been winning even without Miguel Cabrera and

they won’t have Jhonny Peralta in the lineup for Monday night’s

opener of a four-game set in Cleveland.

Peralta, the former Cleveland shortstop, has accepted a 50-game

suspension from Major League Baseball for his links to the

Biogenesis of America clinic, which was accused of distributing

banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Batting .305 with 11 homers and 29 doubles, Peralta’s loss could

spell trouble for Detroit (64-45), which has a three-game lead over

the Indians (62-49).

The Tigers, though, tried to prepare for the expected suspension

by acquiring Jose Iglesias from Boston at the trade deadline. He is

2 for 11 with a homer in three games for the Tigers.

Cabrera has started three times in Detroit’s last 11 games due

to hip and abdominal problems, with the Tigers losing once in that

span. He returned from a three-game absence Sunday with a pinch-hit

single in the 12th inning and Detroit went on to score the winning

run in that frame for a 3-2 victory over the White Sox that capped

an 8-0 homestand.

The Tigers haven’t been able to gain much separation on the

Indians, who have won 11 straight at home for their best streak

since a 14-game run April 3-May 10, 2011. That’s the same year the

Tigers last won nine in a row overall Sept. 2-14.

“They’ve got a real good team. You know they led the division

more games than we did last year,” manager Jim Leyland told the

Tigers’ official website.

Cleveland is one-half game ahead of Texas for the AL’s second

wild-card slot entering the Tigers’ final 2013 visit to Progressive

Field.

“I’d rather be 10 up,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

“But this makes this really exciting. We get to play the best team

in our division and see how we can do.”

The Tigers have taken nine of 12 meetings, with Cabrera leading

the way with five homers and 14 RBIs. Torii Hunter has added 10

RBIs, Victor Martinez is hitting .370 and Andy Dirks has scored a

team-high 11 runs.

Michael Brantley leads the Indians with 11 RBIs in the 12

matchups, but no other Cleveland hitter has more than six. Jason

Kipnis has struggled in going 10 for 49 (.204) with 17

strikeouts.

“We’ve got to defend our home territory,” Brantley said. “We’ll

see where we stand.”

The pitching matchup between right-handers Monday could favor

the Tigers based on their history against Cleveland scheduled

starter Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.77 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in

three 2013 matchups

Cabrera is 4 for 8 with three homers against him this year. The

Indians have won six straight home starts by Kluber, who is 3-0

with a 2.55 ERA in that span.

Anibal Sanchez (9-7, 2.59) seeks his first three-game win streak

for Detroit after allowing two runs over 19 innings over his past

three outings. He won his lone start against the Indians on July 6

by allowing one run over five innings in a 9-4 victory to improve

to 3-1 with a 1.76 ERA in five outings against them.